Lac St. Denis, QC

1997 - General History - The NBC Group

The station was originally called Lac St. Joseph and was located on the side of a lake, 60 miles north of Montreal in the Laurentian Mountains. The name only stuck during the construction phase. The operations site at 1674 feet above sea level was 315 feet higher in elevation than the domestic site one mile away. Further, Lac St. Denis was midway between Morin Heights and St. Adolphe d'Howard on highway 329. The radar station (Site C-2, callsign Crystal) was one of the oldest of the Pinetree Line sites. Construction had begun in 1949. During this time, there was a veil of secrecy imposed by the RCAF as to the real reason for the site. This sparked rumors and speculation among the local inhabitants, including one that the RCAF was building air defence weapons in a huge underground hangar. An advance party arrived to open up No. 202 RCAF Radio Station, as it was known in March 1952. It officially opened the following month. The station was fully operational by July of the same year.

On September 15, 1952, 1 AC&W Squadron transferred its headquarters from RCAF Station St. Hubert to Lac St. Denis. In October 1952, the site became RCAF Station Lac St. Denis while 202 RCAF Radio Station became 11 AC&W Squadron. At the same time, 1 AC&W Squadron was re-designated 1 Air Defence Control Centre and remained as such until its disbandment, as the Montreal NORAD Sector, on 15 September 1962.

The station terminated manual operations on 15 September 1962 when it was SAGE-capable. The station went from manual operations to the SAGE system and began to report to the Bangor Sector at Topsham AFB, Maine. In September 1963, 11 AC&W began reporting to the Ottawa Sector at North Bay. At one time a detachment of 1 Radar and Communications School RCAF Station Clinton Ontario were training enlisted personnel as Fighter Control Operators (more commonly referred to as Fighter Cops at the time) at the station. In September 1965, a new basic trade school to train Air Defence Technicians (previously known as Fighter Cops) was formed to meet the forecasted trade shortage. By 1973, over 25 courses had been run with almost 500 graduates. The station, operating as 11 Radar Squadron, changed its name on 10 August 1967 to CFS Lac St. Denis in September as a result of unification.

In March 1972, CFS Lac St. Denis became a detachment of the North Bay based Air Weapons Control and Countermeasures School (AWC&CS. Eventually Lac St. Denis acquired the Air Weapons Control & Countermeasures School and they carried on training Air Defence Technicians for two more years. The school was later moved to Falconbridge and then to its current location at North Bay, Ontario.

One little known aspect of 11 AC&W's operations was that they were responsible for the control of all test flights of the CF-104 Starfighters being built at Canadair in Montreal. The aircraft would leave the Cartierville Airport and proceed to the testing area, all the while, under positive control of Lac St. Denis.

The Canadian NORAD Region's ROCCs, both Canada East and Canada West, commenced operations in August 1984. Lac St. Denis answered to Canada East. The station carried on with its assigned duties until it finally ceased operations in December 1985. CFS Lac St. Denis was closed on 1 August 1986.

--The NBC Group - Don Nicks, John Bradley, Chris Charland.